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Notre Dame Football

Foskey shines up front for No. 10 Notre Dame, more notes

September 12, 2020
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A team captain and undisputed leader of the defense, Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah huddled with teammates prior to kickoff Saturday against Duke.

A season that seemed it might never happen had arrived, and Owusu-Koramoah wanted the right mindset from the outset.

Perhaps no player took to heart his words better than redshirt-freshman defensive lineman Isaiah Foskey.

Part of No. 10 Notre Dame’s defensive rotation from the outset against the Blue Devils, Foskey made multiple key plays, repeatedly abused Duke left tackle Casey Holman and flashed the skill-set that made Foskey a consensus four-star recruit and U.S. Army All-American in the 2019 class.

“Before the game, I gathered the defense,” Owusu-Koramoah said during his postgame Zoom session, “and I said, ‘You know, we don’t have time for nerves today. We don’t have time for nerves, don’t have time for butterflies.’

“And Foskey is a guy, you know, that doesn’t buy in to (saying), ‘Oh, I’m nervous. I’m going to slow down.’ He’s a guy that’s always ready to go and we appreciate that.”

Almost from his first time on the field Saturday, Foskey proved nettlesome for the Duke offense. He harassed quarterback Chase Brice into an incomplete pass that forced the Blue Devils to settle for a field goal on the game’s first scoring drive.

The nearly 6-foot-5-inch, 257-pounder later sacked Brice, shared in a tackle for loss and added a pair of quarterback hurries.

Foskey helped steady a Notre Dame defense that was punished for 157 first-quarter yards but then allowed just 177 yards the remainder of the contest.

Owusu-Koramoah paced the Irish defense with nine tackles, six of them solo and two for losses, while he also forced a fumble.

DIFFERENT WAY TO SING

As Notre Dame adjusted to the “new normal” of college football, with masks around their necks, increased safety protocols and a fresh round of COVID-19 tests on Friday, their third of the week, players also adjusted postgame when it came time to sign the school’s alma mater.

Normally locking arms with teammates, coaches and staff, the Irish instead sang a socially distanced version of their song in front of students who were spread out around the stadium and a Notre Dame band that spanned three different sections of the field.

But players and coach Brian Kelly lauded the atmosphere inside Notre Dame Stadium, which announced attendance of 10,097 for the school’s first-ever ACC game and first game amidst the global COVID-19 pandemic.

“It was a blessing because we all know six months ago we had no idea if we were ever going to be back in the stadium this year to play,” said redshirt-freshman tailback Kyren Williams, who earned the game ball after his two-touchdown, 205 total yards’ performance. “So it was definitely a blessing. …

“I loved [the atmosphere]. It didn’t seem any different for me. I was hearing the fans, the music got me turnt. It was overall a good day.”

Added quarterback Ian Book, “I didn’t want to run out there and be disappointed or anything. That was no part of my game plan. I wanted to pretend like it’s going to be 80,000. Honestly when I got out there, I was pretty happy with the crowd we had. They did a great job. Felt like more people than I thought it would be. I loved it. The crowd was great. It’s a good home atmosphere.”

FAKE PUNT, REAL MOMENTUM

Notre Dame’s offense, which returned three-year starter Ian Book at quarterback and a veteran offensive line, had struggled through a trio of three-and-out possessions to start the 2020 season.
It was about the once again ask Jay Bramblett to punt.

Instead, Brian Kelly asked Bramblett to run. The game was never the same after Bramblett took off from his own 8-yard line, gained the requisite yardage on fourth-and-8 and helped spur the Fighting Irish’s first touchdown run of 2020.

“My thought process was, ‘I hope the heck it works,’” Kelly said. “That was my first thought process. It was there. We saw it on film. We felt like it was there. It was one of those that you needed to call it in a very vulnerable area. In other words, when you're backed up.

“So you know, Jay is a very good athlete and you saw that he had to cut back to make that first down, but (I) felt very confident that he was going to get an opportunity to convert that. And we were kind of -- we needed a little bit of momentum and so I just felt like it was the right time to make the call.”

Ian Book didn’t know the fake was the play-call, but he said the offense had maintained readiness on the sideline after Book’s third-down pass to Ben Skowronek fell incomplete.

“I didn’t know, no I didn’t, but I was ready to go,” Book said. “We were keeping the offense right there. I was just excited to see Jay run the ball like that; he did a great job. Wasn’t scared, didn’t go around the edge; he went right down the middle.

“That’s what it’s about and our punter [did that]. That’s great.”

INJURY UPDATES

Kelly said post-game that Ben Skowronek had a mild hamstring injury. The graduate-transfer from Northwestern exited the game in the first half and did not return.

Budding star sophomore safety Kyle Hamilton appeared to injure his right ankle/leg on the play that saw Owusu-Koramoah force the Duke fumble. NBC cameras showed Hamilton enter the Notre Dame injury tent, and he did not return to the game. ND officials indicated in the press box that Hamilton had a sprained ankle and could have returned to the contest.

A question submitted to Kelly for an update on Hamilton’s status after the game was not asked. It also was left unclear why wideout Braden Lenzy, who was listed second on the depth chart, did not appear in the game.

 
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